Do you remember the Clean Up Song that your child’s favorite purple dinosaur, Barney, would sing and teach kids? It went like this: “Clean up clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up clean up, everybody do your share.” A generation of kids and more learned this song. So what happened when they left their playrooms and went out into the real world? OMG, have you seen the theater after a movie? There are popcorn containers, drink cups, food and food cartons strewn all over the seats and floor. There is gum stuck to the back of chairs, and the floors feel so sticky, it’s as if someone poured a vat of maple syrup on them. It’s not just theaters; take a look at sport stadiums after a game, the grounds after an outdoor concert or parade, or worse yet… a public bathroom.
Now ask your kids to imagine if they were the person who had to clean this up. Oh, I can hear it now: YUK! EWWW! GROSS! I’m not doing thaaaat! Then ask them “but if you were the one who had to clean it up, what would you want everyone else to do?” Yup… they would want every single person who attended the event to clean up after themselves. Hmmm…. This must sound familiar to a lot of moms out there and ooohhhh wouldn’t it be great if our kids picked up after themselves at home?
This simple question can help kids in many ways. First, they’re exposed to the concept of empathy by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. After imagining that they are the person cleaning up (and they don’t really want to be), they might just have more empathy for the person who does have this job. Second, it is a reminder about having good manners and social skills by throwing away our own trash. Third it is part of being a constituent of the “going green” movement. If each one of us does our part, our environment will be a cleaner, more pleasurable, more inviting place. Win, win, win!
So, next time you see a big, mucky mess, point it out to your kids and teach them how powerful they are by taking responsibility for, at the very least, their own actions. It is one small step in empowering kids to shoulder personal responsibility and do the right thing!
If you can think or more “wins” for kids and the community alike, please leave them in our comments section! We love to hear from our readers!